Sunday, January 11, 2015

African Peanut Soup

Years ago, I worked at a teacher resource center in Howard County. It was the best job ever for many reasons. I had an amazing boss who is also a friend and I met a wonderful woman who volunteered there during the week, who also became a good friend. Not only was the job a place with lots of wonderful people, it was also a place where good food was had on a daily basis. The building I worked in was right across the street from a market called Produce Galore, which sadly went out of business the last year I worked at the resource center. Every day I would walk over to Produce Galore to get lunch. One of the things I especially loved there was the soup bar. There were exciting new soups to try every day and I don't think I was ever disappointed with anything that I had. One soup that I got a few times was a peanut soup. It was rich and creamy and like no other soup I had ever had before. I finally decided to try to make the soup (seven years later) and I'm so glad I did! I had no idea it would be so easy. When I searched online for recipes, I came across many different ones and the one I decided to go with turned out great. I served it over rice and added some Greek yogurt on top. This soup is vegetarian (vegan if you omit the cream), but if you want to add meat Greg and I think that chicken or shrimp would go well with it. Greg was pretty skeptical when I told him about the soup when I was making it but he ended up raving about it when he tried it! It makes a lot of leftovers too (we ate it for the fourth time today and are still looking forward to eating the last of it tomorrow night). The soup is rich because of the coconut milk and peanut butter, but if you serve with the rice you don't need much of it to fill you up. We did about 1/2 cup of cooked rice and 3/4 cup of soup per bowl. But you can eat as much as you want! Enjoy.

Recipe for African Peanut Soup

4 cups of vegetable broth
3 cups of coconut milk (I use the So Delicious culinary brand)
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
1 very large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
1 14.5 ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. of sea salt
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1/8 tsp. of smoked paprika
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch or two of ground ginger
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
*2 Tbsp. of heavy cream
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cooked rice, such as Jasmine rice, for serving
Greek yogurt, for garnish
Roasted peanuts, for garnish

*If desired, and if it doesn't matter to you if this meal is vegan, you can add in the heavy cream. I did!

Pour the broth into a large pot and set over high heat. Add in the coconut milk, fire-roasted tomatoes, diced onion, pressed garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, cubed sweet potato, sea salt, paprika, smoked paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and ginger. Give it a stir and let it sit over high heat for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through (you can check this by pricking the potatoes with a fork, if it goes all the way through they are done cooking). Then use a ladle to take out 1 1/2 cups of the liquid and throw out. Stir in the peanut butter and stir until smooth. Remove the soup from heat. Use an immersion blender to puree until the soup is smooth and there are no chunks of onion or potato. Stir in the cream, if using. Then return the pot to the stove and set over low heat for a couple minutes before serving.

Scoop desired amount of rice into a bowl. Top with the peanut soup. Add on some cilantro leaves and peanuts for garnish. If desired, top with a little bit of Greek yogurt (I did this, but Greg did not).

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Recipe makes about 8 -10 servings (if you serve with rice).

Recipe Adapted from: Oh My Veggies, originally from The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup's On! More than 100 Quick and Easy Recipes for Every Season by Mark Renfield